Page images


Also see Private Sector Initiatives and related tables and figures in Part II.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

law calls for collaboration between the federal government and the media, private industry, museums, libraries, parks, and recreation facilities, and it recognizes the need for international cooperation.

To coordinate these efforts, the 1990 law required EPA to establish an Office of Environmental Education (OEE), which is now in place. The office will work to ensure that U.S. environmental education efforts remain well organized and consistent, regardless of future peaks and valleys in public interest.

Policies and Programs

Public interest in environmental education has fluctuated over past decades, but in the 1990s it received new impetus from the America 2000 Education Strategy developed by President Bush and the state governors. The strategy aims to accomplish excellencein-education goals by the year 2000. Three of these goals—making U.S. students first in the world in science and mathematics, spurring student citizenship, and continuing education through adulthood—are key factors in environmental education.

Another boost came with passage of the National Environmental Education Act of 1990, which targets students in elementary and secondary schools, as well as post-secondary students, senior citizens, and the general public. The

Achieving the America 2000 goals of excellence in education will require the cooperation of individuals in schools and colleges, federal, state and local governments, professional and public interest groups, business, and industry. In 1992 the EPA Office of Environmental Education, acting as an advocate for the mission nationally and internationally, emphasized that environmental educators have a dual charge:

• Instill an environmental ethic in
America's young people that will
prepare them to deal responsibly with
the environment throughout their
lives, and
• Raise the environmental awareness
of adults as informed consumers in
the global shift toward sustainable
development and pollution

In 1992 OEE set goals to help federal agencies implement America 2000. A listing of these goals and examples of current efforts to achieve them follow.

Goal 1. Expand communications with environmental experts.

A strong body of research and literature exists along with an experienced cadre of environmental educators. Federal agencies are establishing communications and advisory networks with educators to ensure that the nation has full benefit of their expertise.

National Environmental Education Advisory Council. The 1990 Environmental Education Act called for creation of an advisory council to make recommendations on implementing the act and to prepare a biennial report to Congress assessing the quality of environmental education in the nation and offering recommendations for improvement. EPA established an 11-member advisory council that represents the nation's geographic areas, minority groups, and a variety of occupations.

Federal Task Force on Environmental Education. NEEA also called for a network to coordinate environmental education efforts among federal agencies. Members of the Federal Task Force on Environmental Education

include CEQ, EPA, the departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Education, Energy, State, and Health and Human Services, the Agency for International Development (USAID), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation, Peace Corps, Tennessee Valley Authority, and U.S. Information Agency. Task Force subcommittees are developing specific areas for collaboration.

EPA Environmental Education Advisory Board. This board consists of 35 senior representatives from EPA headquarters, regional offices, and research laboratories. Six subcommittees are developing programs, policies, and procedures required by the 1990 act.

Pollution Prevention Advisory Group. This external advisory group makes recommendations to EPA on developing pollution prevention educational materials for students and on teacher training. The 20 members have expertise in education, publishing, communications, minority concerns, and the environment.

NEPA Education and Training Courses. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) established a national policy to promote environmental quality, as well as procedures to help federal agencies focus on that goal. Dozens of federal agencies as well as private entities and universities conduct training and educational courses on the NEPA environmental impact statement process, its requirements, and how it can be better used to integrate environmental values into the federal decisionmaking process to reduce conflict, litigation, and cost. CEQ has compiled a compendium that lists and describes NEPA training courses; copies can be obtained from the Council on Environmental Quality, Executive Office of the President.

Goal 2. Develop Partnerships to Increase Effectiveness and to Maximize Use of Limited Resources

Federal agencies are forming new coalitions and cooperative ventures with groups not traditionally involved in environmental education, such as industry, religious organizations, and senior citizen associations. By engaging all stakeholders in the process and by developing partnerships with grassroots organizations, federal agencies can ensure that programs are responsive to local needs.

Goal 3. Increase the number and skills of teachers who infuse environmental issues into their curricula.

Federal agencies are supporting the development of training programs and materials to ensure that all teachers, including those in nonscientific fields, have the opportunity to receive training and materials that will allow the infusion of environmental education into their curricula.

Teacher-Training Grants. In 1992 EPA awarded a $1.6 million grant to a consortium of academic institutions, corporations, and nonprofit organizations headed by the University of Michigan to develop and operate a national environmental education and training program. The program targets in-service teachers (K-12) as well as other educators and includes curriculum development and evaluation, teacher training, and information dissemination.

Wetlands Education. The Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation

with the U.S. Geological Survey, has produced an educational poster for elementary and middle school teachers. Entitled, “Wetlands: Water, Wildlife, Plants and People," the poster features color aerial views of various types of wetlands and on the back has lesson plans and classroom activities. FWS has distributed 200,000 copies to staff, other federal agencies, private organizations, and educators throughout the United States. Sciencescope and Science for Children, publications which circulate to 90,000 teachers, featured the poster as a special pullout in their September 1992 issues. Copies are available from USGS.

Pollution Prevention. The EPA Pollution Prevention Task Force, an external advisory group, is developing a teacher-training plan and educational materials. With guidance from the task force and input from teachers and environmentalists, EPA has designed materials for grades K-12. The project complements the national program being developed by the University of Michigan consortium and may be incorporated into it.

Parks as Classrooms. Through this initiative, the National Park Service enters into partnerships with local schools to develop curricula and provide educational services for students who visit parks on field trips. In 1992 NPS supported 41 projects with funding of $780,000. Training courses emphasizing cultural, heritage, and environmental themes prepare interpreters to develop NPS educational programs. Other projects include curriculum development and an exchange-education project developed by the Everglades National Park involving two schools, one in Miami and the other in Chicago.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »